SANCTUS AND THE BOOK OF REVELATION

Some Anthropological and Theological Insights on the Communal and Historical Dimension of Christian Liturgy

(published in L. Padovese [ed.], Atti del VII Simposio di Efeso su S. Giovani Apostolo, Roma 1999, pp.143-156)

 

One of the most imaginative insights of modern cultural anthropologists is their conviction that ritual, and the liturgical life in general, is a form of communication, a "performative" kind of speech. According to this understanding, rituals are instrumental in creating the essential categories of human thought.[1] They communicate the fundamental beliefs and values of a community, outlining in this way its "world view" and its "ethos".[2] Mary Douglas has demonstrated that rituals do not only transmit culture, but they also "create a reality which would be nothing without them. It is not too much to say that ritual is more to society than words are to thought. For it is very possible to know something and then find words for it. But it is impossible to have social relations without symbolic acts".[3] Even the texts, as A. Destro and M. Pesce have pointed out, “are not just writing, literature, or communication, but above and beyond all this, especially in the religious field, part and instrument of a performance”. [4] This conclusion is in fact in accord with the affirmation of modern theologians, who like the late Fr. George Florovsky rightly declare that "christianity is a liturgical tradition. The Church is first of all a worshipping community.  Worship comes first, doctrine and discipline second. The lex orandi  has a  privileged priority in the life of the christian Church. The lex credendi  depends on the devotional experience and vision of the Church, more precisely on the authentic (i.e. liturgical) identity of the Church."[5]

In this line of thought, liturgy does not only externalize, but also modifies experience.[6] This double orientation is expressed in the certain general functions the liturgy has for a group. Some of them contribute to the expression, maintenance and transmission of the values and feelings of a given social and/or religious system, some others serve as guardians of these values and feelings,  protecting them from doubts and rejections, while others contribute to the intesification of solidarity between the participants, thus creating a sense of communion.

Keeping in mind all these, i.e. that rituals and liturgy in general create a reality, a "world view" and the "ethos" of a community, it may be proved very fruitful to try to think of the Liturgy of the Church in terms of the insights cultural anthropology has offered, among others, to scholars of religion.

 

1. Anthropological Insights on Liturgy. There are two major understandings of the Liturgy. According to the first one, Liturgy can be treated as a private  act, functioning as a means to meet some particular religious needs: i.e. both the need of the community to exercise its power and supervision on the members, and the need of the individual for personal "sanctification". We could label this aspect of the liturgical act as juridical. According to the second one, the Liturgy functions as a means for the upbuilding of the religious community, which is no longer viewed in institutional terms or as a cultic organization, but as a communion (λοιξφξέα) and as a way of living. We will call this second understanding communal.

a. The juridical understanding of Liturgy presupposes a religious system, which in terms of ecclesiology treats the Church as an institution with a rigid hierarchical structure, and an authoritative code of doctrinal beliefs and ethical principles. This entails a number of objectified obligations (cultic, doctrinal and moral) which all the members within the religious system have to fulfill. Consequently, this understanding of Liturgy treats all the liturgical rites within the system (Sacraments, sacramentalia, rites of various kinds etc.) as the necessary means for the individual to acquire the divine grace and finally salvation. The Liturgy of the Church in this respect is the necessary means for personal expiation, justification and psychological relaxation. Within this framework, sin (ναςτέα) becomes an individual guilt, a "case" that is legally predefined and which demands expiation and redemption through the infliction based on the appropriate canon, and of course through a mediator. As a result, all liturgical acts and the Sacraments in particular, are reduced to cultic acts. Moreover, God is no longer the loving Father who shows compassion to sinners, but the sadist father, as Sigmund Freud noted, who demands ta number of expiatory cultic acts.

It is worth noting that this cultic understanding of Liturgy encourages and in effect promotes a sharp distinction between the various segments of the religious society (clergy and laity, monastic and secular, pneumatic/spiritual (πνευματικός/γέροντας) and ordinary/subordinate (–ποταλτιλήχ), thus underlining the dimensions of super- and sub-ordination within the ritual, and contributing to the maintenance of the social structure not only within the religious community itself, but also by extension within the wider social life.[7]

b. At the other end, the communal understanding of Liturgy presupposes an entirely different situation. After all God' s involvement in history through Jesus Christ was planned in order that all human beings “may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). In fact, christianity with all its rites “does not aim primarily at the propagation or transmission of intellectual covictions, doctrines, moral commands etc., but at the transmission of the life of communion that exists in God".[8] 

It is worth noting that the communal character of Liturgy emerges in marginality (liminality), at the edges of structure, and from beneath structure, in inferiority.[9] This observation undergirds the principle lain above: the communal understanding of Liturgy presupposes an anti-structural kind of ecclesiology. In a theological level this means priority of communion over structure; yet in a practical level it does not mean the abolition of every kind of structure in the community. As Victor Turner insightfully claimed, there is a dialectic between structure and communion (or communitas): "In rites de passage,  (wo)men are released from structure into communitas only to return to structure revitalized by their experience of communitas".[10]

    2. Sanctus and the Eucharistic Liturgy. In liturgics the tension between “private” and “communal” understanding of christian liturgy is in a way related to the insertion, at some historical point, of the Sanctus (the trisagion angelic hymn) in the eucharistic anaphora, without any direct connection to what precedes or to what follows, thus basically separating it into two parts.[11] In fact it is not so much the insertion of the Sanctus as such, as the misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the relation between heavenly and earthly liturgy. The development of the eucharistic anaphora and the addition of the Sanctus has caught the imagination and attracted the interest of scholars ever since the 17th century, when a critical study of liturgy has begun, called by A.C.Couratin "a kind of precious stone of liturgical theology".[12]

    According to G. Dix[13] the Sanctus is a decorative ornamental addition, which was added in the 4th century AD to the eucharistic prayers without any connection to the its rhythm and reasoning; and this took place throughout christianity, though at different points of the respective prayers of the various churches.  The hymn comes from the Book of Isaiah and runs as follows:

". . . I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple.  Above him stood the Seraphim... And one called to another and said:  "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." (Is 6:1-3)

 In christian literature it was first used by the author of the Apocalypse in his vision of the heavenly worship:

"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is to come!”   (Rev. 4:8)[14]

Some scholars have argued that the Sanctus in Rev. 4:8b constitutes the most ancient christian liturgical text.[15]  Nevertheless, in neither its Judaic nor its christian use, is the Sanctus connected in an obvious way to the eucharistic prayers; nor was it ever used in combination with them, although at some point in the history of Judaism it penetrated the worship of the Synagogue.[16]

    The first evidence of the use of the Sanctus in the context of the eucharistic prayers is found in Jerusalem and Egypt, and a little later in Antioch. At that time the Synagogue was no longer a danger for the Church.[17] Nowadays, one of the most uncontested conclusions in liturgical scholarship is that the Sanctus and its introduction had been used for the first time in Alexandria around the mid-third century AD[18].  From there it might have spread to the other churches, since there is no evidence of its earlier use in the liturgy[19].  We should be reminded that the Sanctus is found neither in the fragmentary liturgical references of Justin nor in the more extensive eucharistic anaphora of Hippolytus. Needless to say, the research on the evolution of the Divine Liturgy constitutes an extremely interesting area, whose significance largely transcends the narrow limits of conventional liturgics[20] and touches the heart of the ecclesiological and overall theological problem; in other words its importance is related to the self-consciousness of the christian community. 

    The connection between the evolution of the eucharistic anaphora to privatization and de-historization of christian liturgy, and consequently moving away from the communal understanding of christian worship, is expressed in remarks such as the following: "According to evidence from the anaphora of Hippolytus, the sacrifice offered to the earthly sanctuary referred to the heavenly sanctuary . . . was quite natural for the faithful on earth to be eager to be united to the angelic realm in heavens."[21] E.C.Ratcliff, an old-days-liturgist [22] advanced the hypothesis that the linking of the eucharistic prayer to the Sanctus was a result of the reasoning that, since the servants of God in heavens are angels[23], who "have no rest day and night, saying holy, holy, holy, is Lord God the Almighty. . .” (Rev 4:8), then during the Eucharist the christian community basically is lifted up in order to participate in the heavenly liturgy.[24]

      In other words, the ultimate goal of the eucharistic liturgy of the christian Church was not meant to transform the Church into what she really is - i.e. a  people of God, a body of Christ, a communion of the Holy Spirit to witness in this world "the wonderful acts of God, who called them from the darkness into his own marvelous light”  (I Pe 2:9), or even a projection of the salvific work of the Triune God to the whole of creation - but, instead, her elevation beyond historical reality and her unification with the supra mundane world of the angels, with the aim to meet private needs of the individual believer.

    3. Sanctus and Revelation. Therefore, Sanctus and the book of Revelation are very important in defining the character of christian worship. In any case, the book of Revelation possibly constitutes the most important christian text for a proper understanding of Liturgy, and no doubt a decisive point of reference for the problem of the addition of the Sanctus in the eucharistic anaphora. 

    Either we take the Apocalypse to be the generic cause for the addition of the Sanctus[25] or we consent to the oldest theory, according to which its author reproduces in his work the liturgical act of the early Church,[26] - even without insisting that the addition itself originates in the first century AD.; or, finally, if we endorse the more reliable theory that the Apocalypse is a determining factor for later liturgical self-conscience of the Church;[27] the bottom line in all these cases is that the Apocalypse is the key to uncover the real meaning of Christian liturgy; in fact its connection to history and its relation to the communal or private aspect of the Church.

    a. One of the prevailing features of the Apocalypse, both in form and in essence, is undoubtedly the liturgical.  Not only the first (1:3) and the last (22:6) chapters evidently imply a liturgical setting; it is also the fact that the experience of the seer/prophet takes place "on the Lord's day" (1:1); it is the baptismal formula (1:5-6); it is also the concluding prayer "Come Lord Jesus" (22:20) and the blessing of the final verse (22:21); it is the numerous hymns, especially from ch. 4 onwards (4:8f-11; 5:9-10, etc.); the direct and indirect references to the eucharistic anaphoras (2:7; 2:24; 2:17, 3:20, 7:16ff; 11:11; 19:9; 21:6; 22:1-10ff; the climax being the scene of the heavenly worship in ch. 4;(see also 5:9; 7:2-14; 12:11; 14:10ff; 16:6-19; 17:2); the doxologies (1:6; 5:13; 7:12 etc.), to mention just the most prominent cases. 

    According to T.F.Torrance the Apocalypse is at once the most liturgical and the most eschatological book of the New Testament.  Using language and imagery borrowed from the Old Testament and enlightened by the presence of the Holy Spirit, the seer/prophet circumscribes ontologically the history of the Church and deontologically her leitourgia in space and time (worship); while the Gospels describe the way "the Word took flesh," the Apocalypse constitutes an extension of christology in time and history.  As in the Old Testament, the liturgy revolves around the event of the Exodus, and the eschatological salvation was anticipated as a new "Exodus" with the help of the new redeemer and through a new testament, so the Apocalypse, in exactly the same way, describes this same dynamic liturgy, this time revolving around the slaughtered Lamb.[28]

    The context in which the Sanctus is used for the first time ever in Christian literature is Apoc ch. 4 and 5, where the seer/prophet describes his vision of the heavenly liturgy.[29] According to J. Giblet, in this vision John presents the splendor of the throne of God while offering a theological reflection on the theme of heavenly liturgy.  The symbols and images he uses reflect those used by the Old Testament prophets, when they describe the grandeur and glory of God: the Theophany at Sinai and the place " where God stood" (Ex 24:9ff); the description of those surrounding God (Dan 7:14); the six-winged Seraphim in the vision of Isaiah (6:2), and the living beings, a common feature of all the apocalyptic texts ever since Ezekiel's time (1:4ff).[30] 

    Taking for granted that the 24 presbyters represent the Church,[31] the living beings the rest of the animated creation, the various elements (precious stones, golden crowns, lightenings and thunders, torches, the sea) the inanimate nature, and the Seraphim the angelic powers, in other words the whole of creation, there should be no doubt  about the cosmic character of the heavenly liturgy in Apocalypse, and by extension  of Christian worship in general.

    b. One really wonders why such a theologically most advanced reflection, stemming from the New Testament itself, has made so little impact - not to say it has been completely  neglected - during the formation of Christian worship. To answer this question one has to briefly review the history of the interpretation of the book of Revelation.  Only then, can one understand the reason why  the most "liturgical" book  of the New Testament has been virtually excluded from the "Liturgy of the Church".  The main debate in the ancient Church evolved around whether the Apocalypse should be interpreted literally or allegorically.[32]  Although up to Origen's time the Church Fathers of the second century were unanimously inclined towards the literary interpretation of the Apocalypse, interpreting the famous passage of 20:1-6 as a prophecy concerning the earthly kingdom of Christ, which would follow His Second Coming and would last for a thousand years,[33] under the influence of this great Alexandrian thinker, historical interpretation gave its place to the so-called spiritual or allegorical one.[34]  Origen refuted the literary interpretation of the Apocalypse, and argued that the prophecies about the End should be interpreted allegorically, because an anticipation of an earthly kingdom is nothing but a surrender to human desires and lusts!.[35] Thus, when Augustine[36] brought this problematic in the West, although he attempted some kind of an eschatological synthesis (that is a compromise between millenarianism and the allegorical view)[37] the allegorical interpretation of the Apocalypse dominated the entire Christian exegesis.  Consequently, the hope for a new world, and the anticipation of the eminent kingdom of Christ, remained concealed,[38] up until very recently with few exceptions both in the East and in the West.[39]  Thus, the symbols and imagery of the Apocalypse were seen as metaphysical and ethical categories of another, mostly undefined, reality.  The real historical and political dimension penetrating this unique piece of literature, from the beginning to its very end, have  only recently been reaffirmed.

    c. In order, however, to grasp the profound meaning of the book it is absolutely necessary to give an answer to the question of the literary genre  as well as to the theological character  of the book, i.e. whether it is to be essentially considered as a prophetic or apocalyptic piece of literature.[40]  To this end it would be necessary to trace back the development of Jewish literature from prophecy to apocalyptic, through a study of the historical events of Israel - beginning with the renewal of the prophetic spirit during the time of Jeremiah and the Deuteronomic reformation of Josiah (640-609 BC.), and going through the emergence of theocracy in Ezekiel's time (a typical example of a transition from a prophet to an apocalyptic [587-539]) to the almost complete abolition of prophecy and its substitution by sophiology, and finally to the composition of the book of Daniel and the other later Jewish apocalyptic writings of the first century BC.[41]  This approach will clearly show us that the last book of the New Testament is a prophetic book - with certain, of course, apocalyptic elements - and  not an apocalyptic one.[42]

    d. If we were to accept the prophetic character of the book of Revelation, it would help us understand better its author's perception of the liturgy.  Amongst the various typical expressions and terms of the Old Testament the author of the Apocalypse - following the rest of the New Testament writers, and most particularli the authors of Hebrews and I Peter - chooses the terminology of worship and prophecy.  Obviously  his preferential approach to sin is in terms of repentance (ch. 2-3) and also of purification.  Beginning with the first verses, a doxology is addressed to Jesus Christ "who cleansed[43] us from our sins in his blood" (1:5); the Church is called a "royal priesthood" (1:6); (but also "and he made us a kingdom , priests to his God and Father" ; cf also 5:10); for the innumerable crowd of the faithful, "who are robed in white garments" (7:13), are said to  have "washed their garments and whitened them in the lamb's blood" (7:14).[44]  Without, therefore, dealing with worship in the critical manner the Prophets did,[45] the seer/prophet of the Apocalypse gives liturgy a new dimension, which reminds us the political atmosphere of the prophetic literature.  In this way, he overcomes the purely cultic and ritualistic preoccupations of the Old Testament priestly tradition.  In other words, in the Apocalypse the Levitical and mediatory priesthood of the Old Testament[46] is not simply overpassed; it is even contrasted.

    e. If the historical character, as well as the purely prophetic background of the Apocalypse is accepted, the next step is to move to the structure of the book.  In his brilliant study, L. Thompson maintains that morphologically the Apocalypse uses two types of visions: "dramatic narratives" and "heavenly liturgies."  The first are used as literary forms through which the seer/prophet proleptically projects eschatological realities before the description of the new world in the last two chapters unfold in seven septets,[47] with bountiful skill.  Typical in almost all septets is the prolonging of the last narrative in order that all the elements the author wished to incorporate in his book are included, without mutating his literary septic scheme.

    However, what is even more important though is the close connection - in terms of essence and form alike - between "heavenly liturgies" and "dramatic eschatological narratives," in other words, between liturgy and history.[48]  The heavenly liturgy of the fourth chapter, in particular, in which the Sanctus is to be found (4:8b), is for the seer/prophet of the Apocalypse, as S. Agourides characteristically puts it, "the reality of the world beneath what is manifest. It is the predominance of God's truth and of the righteousness and love of the lamb. . . So the purpose of the heavenly liturgy is to point to the insofar invisible yet true and authentic meaning of history, as opposed to the falsification and lies that seem to dominate its visible course. . . It is precisely with the "eschaton," that the world and history outlive their real life and orientation.  The transition from one period of the world to the other is presented as extremely painful."[49]

    This tragic transition symbolizes the terrible events that follow the form of successive septets (seals 6:1ff; trumpets 8:1ff; visions/signs 11:15ff; bowls/plagues 15:5ff; plagues/heavenly voices 17:1ff), all of them apparently bringing to the reader's mind the Seven plagues of Pharaoh before Exodus.[50]  Henceforth, everything which is described in the preceding to the  final solution of the drama chapters , namely, the vision of the "new heavens" and "new earth" (Rev 21:1ff) are neither signs of revenge nor frustration nor terror and intimidation but, quite the opposite: a message of victory, of hope, of  salvation. The right, therefore, understanding of the terrible eschatological narratives of the Apocalypse is impossible without linking them to the liturgical pieces of the book.  At the same time, however - and this is of utmost importance to our subject - the purpose of the heavenly liturgy and in extension the real meaning of christian worship, are incomprehensible if not directly connected with history, since "for John liturgy, prayer, God, heaven and all the unspeakable and terrifying things happening down here on earth are not unrelated to each other; they rather form a unity, they are one thing."[51]

    In addition to the close relation between history and heavenly liturgy, the historical and cosmic perspective of the liturgical element in the book of the Apocalypse is certified by the terminology used in some  hymns of a quasi-eucharistic-anaphoral kind, forerunners of all christian prayers of the anaphora.  The thanksgiving offered by the 24 presbyters to God "for he created all” (4:11 see also the thanksgiving of presbyters in 11:7ff) and to Christ "for he redeemed them in God through his blood. . . and made them a kingdom and priests” (5:9-10), constitute an indirect reference to the scheme later on found in the anaphoral references of Justin and Hippolytus.[52]  We should remind ourselves, at this point, that, the Gnostics generally denied the value of history, namely that God the Father created the world and the Son became perfect man and really died on the cross.  For that reason, their prayers do not resemble at all the terminology of the Apocalypse, as well as of all the christian anaphoras after Justin.[53]

    Finally , the historical projections of the heavenly liturgy are verified by the use of a series of terms[54] especially chosen for that purpose such as "the Almighty" (παντοκράτωρ  1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7-14; 19:6-15; 21:22) and "worthy"  (άξιος 4:11, 5:2-9; 12:4), the well-known "acclamation" at the enthronement of the Roman emperors.  These terms basically denote and reveal through symbols the struggle between the worship of God and the "lamb," on the one hand, and the beast on the other, the Church and her head, Christ, the slaughtered lamb, and the Roman authority and emperor, who during the kingship of Domitianus was worshipped as dominus et deus.  Consequently, the meaning of worship in the Apocalypse is the declaration of the dominion of God and not the Emperor or, in other words, of the kingdom of God, whereas the worship of the beast is an opposition to that kingdom and thus its rejection. Finally, typical is the reference at the final vision (21:1ff) not only to "a new heaven" but, in accordance with the undoubtedly historical prophecy of Isaiah (66:17), to a "new earth."

    4. Conclusion. If any  conclusion  is to be drawn from the above analysis this is an affirmation of the historical orientation and the communal character of the christian liturgy. For if the addition of the Sanctus is to be related in any way with the Apocalypse, and if the meaning of the heavenly liturgy in the Apocalypse has indeed a cosmic, communal and historical and not purely transendent and supra mundane character, then the profound meaning of the really strange addition of the Sanctus would not denote an alienation of the life of the Church[55] (i.e. her liturgical praxis) from history and community, but quite the contrary, the direct relation of worship to the communal, historical and social reality.[56]

                                                                                          

 


 

[1]E.Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (transl. by J.W.Swain, New York: Free Press, 1965, reprint), p. 22.       

[2]P.L.Berger and Th.Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (New York: Doubleday, 1966). C.Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures. Selected Essays (New York: Basic Books, 1973), pp. 126-141.

[3]M.Douglas, Purity and Danger. An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge and Keegan Paul, 1966), p. 62.

[4]A.Destro - M.Pesce, “Anthropological Reading of Early Christian Texts”. Sccording to them “a text is the product of a human activity which is at the same level of all other cultural manifestations”.

[5]G.Florovsky, "The Elements of Liturgy: An Orthodox View," Ecumenism 1, A Doctrinal Approach, vol. XIII in the Collected Works, p. 86; also in C.Patelos (ed.), The Orthodox Church in the Ecumenical Movement, Geneva WCC Press 1978, 172-182, p.172.

[6]M.Douglas, Purity and Danger, p. 64.

[7]Unesco’s Dictionary of the Social Sciences  (Gould and W.L.Kolb eds.) classifies the liturgical behaviour into three distinct categoties: a. Rites of passage, which help the participant to accomplish a status change; b. Rites of deference, which acknowledge the superordination, the subordination and the friendship preserving thus the existing social structure; c. Rites of intensification, being held during periods of crisis, in order to increase the solidarity of the group and decrease the tension that exists, counterbalancing in this way the crisis. ( vol. 3 of Greek transl. Athens, 1972, p. 967; cf. Arnold van Gennep, Rites de Passage, Paris: Nourry, 1909). According to the above analysis, we may place this understanding of the Liturgy of Church, and especially its sacraments, in the category of the “Rites of Deference”.

[8]I.Bria (ed.), Go Forth in Peace. Orthodox Perspectives on Mission, Geneva: WCC Press Mission series 1985, p. 3.

[9]Ibid, p. 128.

[10]V.Turner, The Ritual Process. Structure and Anti-Structure (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1969), p. 129.

[11]A.C.Couratin, "Liturgy," in The Pelican Guide to Modern Theology, vol. 2, Historical Theology, 1969, pp. 131-240, p. 193ff.

[12]A.C.Couratin, "Liturgy," p. 155.

[13]G.Dix, The Shape of Liturgy, 19822 p. 537ff.

[14]See J.J.O'Rourke, "The Hymns of the Apocalypse," CBQ 30 (1968) pp. 399-409, who after subjecting the text of the Apocalypse to a form-critical analysis came to the conclusion that sections 1:4-5:8b; 4:8b (i.e. the Sanctus); 7:12, 15-17; 11;15, 17-18; and 19:5-8 constitute preexisting hymnic material, which the author of the book reworked from his christological perspective.

[15]L.Mowry, "Revelation IV-V and Early Christian Liturgical Usage," JBL 71 (1952) pp. 75-84.  According to J.J.O'Rourke, "The Hymns...," pp. 399-409, this view goes beyond the existing evidence.

[16]B.D.Spinks, "The Jewish Sources of the Sanctus,"  Heythrop Journal 21 (1980)  p. 168ff.  According to P.Trempelas, Origins and Character of Christian Worship, 1962, (in Greek), its use in the Synagogue worship before the second century AD. is uncertain  (p. 180).

[17]But see A.Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, ch. 2.  Trempelas also denies the Jewish influence (Origins, p. 57, n. 120 "We accept that the Sanctus is a very old part of the anaphora and thus do not think the Jewish influence possible, since John in his description of the heavenly worship presented it as the model of Christian worship and in this sense he included the Sanctus in his Apocalypse."  This view is related, or even derives from the mistaken idea of this prominent Greek theologian in modern history that "the Anaphora per se is totally original and free from all influences of the ordo  of the "chaburah", ibid., p. 67.

[18] G.Kretschmar, Studien zum früchristlichen Trinitätstheologie, 1956. More in  B.D.Spinks, The Sanctus in the Eucharistic Prayer, 1992, pp. 5ff. Spinks himself, however, in his detailed study on the use of the Sanctus in judaio-Christian liturgy, argues for the Syriac origin of the insertion of the Sanctus in the Christian anaphora. R.Taft, “The Interpolation of the Sanctus into the Anaphora: When and Where? A Review of the Dossier: Part II,” OCP 58  (1992)  rightly insists that there is “no reason to challenge” the Egyptian origin.

[19]J.H.Strawley, The Early History of Liturgy, 19492, p. 54; P. Rodopoulos, The Sacramentary of Serapion, 1967, p. 78; G.Dix, The Shape, p. 165 and passim.; idem, "Primitive Consecration Prayers,"  Theology 37 (1938)  261ff, where he claims that the route the insertion of the Sanctus followed was from Alexandria to Egypt and from there to the rest of Christianity; see also the important study of W.E.Frere, The Anaphora or Great Eucharistic Prayer, 1938; see also Ch.S.Tziogas, "The Trisagion Hymn," Theological Symposium in honor of Professor P. K. Chrestou, 1967, (in Greek), pp. 275-287.

[20]For this issue see the introduction to the book of A.Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, p. 19ff.

[21]P.Trempelas, Archai, p. 180.

[22]E.C.Ratcliff, "The Sanctus and the Pattern of the Early Anaphora,"  JEH 1 (1950) pp. 29ff and 125ff.

[23]In reality, they are the four living beings which may be identified with the angelic powers on the basis of the description "each one of them having six wings" (Rev. 4:8a) that clearly comes from the description of the Seraphim in Is 6:2.

[24]Taking Ratcliff's argument a step further A.C.Couratin, "The Sacrifice of Praise,"  Theology 58 (1955)  maintained that the connection makes, sense since the eucharistic cup clearly symbolizes the "new" testament (cf. "this is my blood of the new testament"), while the "old" testament, according to the Exodus narrative, makes also explicit reference to the ascending of the representatives of Israel to the mountain of God's presence and lawgiving, where they "ate and drunk" (Ex. 24:11). Therefore, the linking  the Sanctus to the eucharistic prayer aimed at the lifting up of the Christian community and its immediate presentation before God.

[25]Ibid., p. 6, n. 20, a suggestion, however that  contradicts the early eucharistic witness in christian literature.

[26]According to G.Dix, The Shape, pp. 28-29, on the basis of Rom 12:4-6, the primitive liturgy was a collective action of thanksgiving to God the Father, by the Christ's living Body.  The order of the Eucharist is more or less known.  We have no direct witness to the date of its adoption; however, Dix maintained that it was established long before the end of the first century AD; not only because the liturgical praxis which follows is in agreement about it, but mainly because its order is clearly reflected to the symbolism of the heavenly "gathering" of the triumphant Church, the real gathering of whom all earthly things are but symbols and types; the same symbolism is found in the visions of the Apocalypse , most probably written c. 93 AD.  In this book everything revolves around the heavenly altar, in front of which stood the crowds of the faithful, whose number was "myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands" (5:11).  Serving angels appear everywhere.  The 24 presbyters have their thrones in the form of a semi-circle around the sparkling throne of God and the Lamb, in the same way that presbyters at earthly altars sat around the tablinum, the white throne of the bishop.  "It is possible" Dix concludes, "that the book's symbolism was influenced by the dominant, since the first century AD, liturgical praxis of the Church and not vise versa, since this structure was traditionally predominant in the churches (i.e. of Asia Minor) that challenged the divine inspiration and canonicity of the book of Revelation whose authority and authenticity was challenged even in the third century AD."  In addition, O. Cullmann, Early Christian Worship, 1953, p. 7, maintains that "the writer of the Apocalypse views the whole drama of the last days in the context of primitive Christian worship". . . and that, "beginning with the original greeting in v. 14 and up to the closing prayer "come Lord Jesus" in v. 22:20 and the blessing of the final verse, the book of Revelation is full of implications on liturgical uses of the first community."  Even if we consider the suggestion as purely hypothetical, it is at least sure that the writer of the book expresses a view about worship.  See also G. Delling, "Zum Gottesdienstlichen Still der Johannes-Apocalypse"  NT 3 (1959) pp. 107-137.  Some scholars (e.g. D.L.Barr, "The Apocalypse of John as Oral Enactment," Interpretation 40 [1986] 243-256) have taken these views to the extreme arguing that the Apocalypse functions within the context of early Christian worship, which culminates in the Eucharist.  K. P. Joerns (Das hymnische Evangelium, 1971) rejects the hypothesis that there is an apparent liturgical structure in the book of Revelation.  See also M. H. Shepherd, The Paschal Liturgy and the Apocalypse, 1960; and (Metropolitan) N. Anagnostou, The Apocalypse, 1971 [in Greek]).

[27]P. Bratsiotis, The Apocalypse of Apostle John, 1950, (in Greek) holds that it is more probable that, "early Christian worship and the Apocalypse of John mutually influenced each other" (p. 50).

[28]T.F.Torrance, "Liturgie et Apocalypse," Verbum Caro 11 (1957) pp. 28-40.

[29]According to P.T.Achtemeier, "Revelation 5:1-14,"  Interpretation 40 (1986) pp. 383-388 the culmination of the drama in the Apocalypse is to be found in this very scene.  A second culmination in the scene with the vision of the "new heaven" and the "new earth" of the two last chapters of the book (21:1ff), which in fact forms the solution of the drama, is nothing but the fulfillment of what the prophet has announced in chs 4 and 5.

[30]J. Giblet, "De visione Templi coelestis in Apoc. IV: I-II,"  CollMech 43 (1958) . 593-97.

[31]Whether we accept the view that the 24 presbyters represent the 24 Jewish clans (see S.Agouridis, The Apocalypse, pp. 13, 82); or that "they stand for the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles; the Old Israel and the new Israel" (more on that in my essay EIKΏN and EKKΛHΣIA in the Apocalypse", pp. 431ff).

[32]On this issue see the study of A.Y.Collins, "Reading the Book of Revelation in the Twentieth Century,"  Interpretation 40 (1968)  229-242.

[33]See amongst others the views of Papias (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3:39), Justin (Dial. Tryph. 81), Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. 5:30ff), Tertullian (Ad Marc. 3:25).

[34]See S.Smalley, The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages, 1964, p. 19ff.

[35]Origen, De principii, 2:11-2:5.

[36]De Civitatae Dei, 20:7-13.

[37]See A.Y.Collins, "Reading the Book of Revelation," p. 229ff.

[38]Its biblical eschatological perception was saved only by the ancient eastern liturgical tradition, a fact that the late Fr. Alexander Schmemann made a great effort to underline in his writings.

[39]See the studies of A. Argyriou, Les Exegeses greques de l'Apocalypse a l'epoque turque (1453-1821), 1982; "Greek exegetical works on the Apocalypse during the Tourkokratia," EEΘΣΘ 24 (1979) (in Greek), pp. 357-380 and his recent presentation at the Sixth Synaxis of Orthodox Biblical Theologians, whose topic was Apocalypse (Cyprus 1991); also the already mentioned study of Collins (n 30) on the East and the West respectively.

[40]See the important study by D.S.Russell, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, 1960.

[41]See Carroll Stuhlmueller, "Post-exilic Period: Spirit, Apocalyptic," Jerome I, pp. 337-343, with an excellent description of this evolution.

[42]In order to understand the character of the Apocalypse a comparison is needed not only with prophecy but also with classical apocalyptic; since the second is considered to be an evolution of the first.  While, then, the prophets were men of action through their dynamic preaching, the apocalyptics were men of the written word and transmitted their message carefully and under cover.  Apocalypse retains both features but the action is prevalent since its writer was exiled in Patmos (1:9).  While the prophets were personally involved in the politics of their time, the apocalyptics devoted themselves to a kind of cosmic mission.  The main feature of the Apocalypse is the confrontation between the Church and Roman authorities.  The message of the prophets was critical of certain events, whereas the apocalyptics, especially Daniel, developed a kind of religious hermeneutics of universal history.  Apocalypse, no doubt, attempts the second task, without ceasing, though, to refer, even if covered, to specific events of a definitely political character (see V. Stogiannos, Apocalypse and Politics, 1985 (in Greek).  The prophets played a leading part in the domination of God over his elect people, Israel, whereas the apocalyptics envisioned the universal domination of JHWΕ.  The Apocalypse describes the second process but for the elect people of God, the Church, the New Israel.  Essential to the understanding of apocalyptic literature is the unshakable belief that the world can be transformed only due to a direct intervention of God.  The prophet of the Apocalypse, on the contrary, counts also on the blood of the martyrs (for more see our study "Eικών and Eκκλησία in the Apocalypse," GOTR  38 (1993) pp. 103-117).  Finally, the prophets spoke boldly against the temple and religious authorities and their word was scarcely misunderstood as opposite to the apocalyptics who spoke in visions and symbolic terms and were usually misinterpreted.  This is, probably, the only element the Apocalypse holds in common with the rest of the works of the apocalyptic writers, even though some scholars have recently maintained that the views of the writer on priesthood were those of general priesthood exclusively (i.e. E. S. Fiorenza, Priester für Gott, 1971; and Apocalyptic and "Gnosis in the Book of Revelation," JBL 92 (1973) pp. 565-581).

[43]Either we read luvsanti, or louvsanti in v.. 1:5

[44]See the very enlightening treatment of the issue by E. G. Selwyn, The First Epistle of St. Peter, 1946, p. 285ff.

[45]See also the eucharistic excerpts from the synoptic tradition "I want mercy and not sacrifice" (Mat. 9:13; 12:7 from Os 6:6).  According to T. F. Torrance (Liturgie et Apocalypse, p. 31ff) the meaning of liturgy in the Apocalypse is defined by its alienation from the Old Testament worship.  Whereas the second is strongly marked by the coming of a new destructive "aeon", in the Apocalypse, and in the New Testament in general it is marked by the coincidence and identification of the present with the future "aeon."

[46]In regard to the notion of the priesthood as to that of ecclesiology (see our study Image and Church in Apocalypse, p. 420ff) the Apocalypse is the culmination of the process which started with the early texts of the New Testament and reached the post-apostolic Ignatian eucharistic-centered writings on the role of the bishop, preceded by I Peter and Hebrews.  While I Peter stresses the "priesthood of the Church" and Hebrews "the priesthood of Christ' (see E. G. Selwyn, The First Epistle of St. Peter, p. 294), the Apocalypse shifts the stress on "prophetic priesthood."  Selwyn, in his book already mentioned juxtaposes I Peter to the Apocalypse in a characteristic manner.

[47]See J. W. Bowman, The Drama of the Book of Revelation, 1955; also S. Agouridis, The Apocalypse, p. 29ff.

[48]L. Thompson, "Cult and Eschatology in the Apocalypse of John," JR 4 (1969) pp. 330-350.  Thompson rightly believes that the heavenly liturgy is in absolute harmony with the earthly liturgy and the dramatic events of history unravel in terms of the human tragedy.

[49]S. Agouridis, The Apocalypse, pp. 41-42.  This is the meaning of the last days in Orthodox liturgy.  More on the issue in A. Schmemann, Introduction, p. 79ff.

[50]As R. H Charles (The Revelation of St. John, 1920, p. 1xiiff) put it, the writer of the Apocalypse was thinking continuously in Hebrew categories of thought but wrote in Greek, a language that he did not master with ease.  According to H. B. Swete (Apocalypse of St. John, 19072, to the 404 verses of the book, 278 include obvious references from the Old Testament, mostly freely adapted from the original Hebrew and not from the translation of O'.  See also A. Lancelotti, "L'Antico Testamento nell' Apocalisse," in Rivista Biblica 14 (1966) pp. 369-84.

[51]S. Agouridis, The Apocalypse, p. 83.  "The heavenly liturgy is not detachment and withdrawal from earthly things but the interpretation of the earthly things from the angle of God and their redemption from powers hostile to God.  This constitutes the real meaning of Christian worship in general" (p. 52).

[52]G. A. Michell, Landmarks in Liturgy, 1961, pp. 68-69.

[53]An example is given by the eucharistic prayers of the Apocryphal Acts of John (84-86 and 109-110) and Acts of Thomas (44-50 and 133); see M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament, 1924, pp. 250, 268, 388, 422.

[54]Very correctly S. Agourides (The Apocalypse, p. 29) maintains that, "the writer of the Apocalypse talks to us about the salvation offered by God not in another world but in our world transformed; not outside history and individually, but in the context of true communion with other people, which is the end and at once the surpassing of history."

[55]In the Byzantine sources, and St. John Chrysostom in particular, a smoother flow of the eucharist is attempted through a scheme of antithesis: "although you are being escorted by thousands of angels...."; however, this phenomenon occurs only with time and especially following the purpose and complex developments related to the ritual preceeding the anaphora, during late Byzantine period.  R. Taft's contribution to the topic is classical (ref. 10); see also H. J. Schulz, The Byzantine Liturgy 1986.  Even the Cherubic Hymn introducing the liturgy came to signify the setting aside of all earthly cares: either the "now all earthly care" (pasan nun viotiken) was transformed to "all the earthly care" (pasan ten viotiken), (see J. Foundoulis, The Divine Liturgies, 1985, (in Greek) p. 231, or the hymn, being the evolution of "Now the powers" (Nun ai Dunameis) clearly manifests the setting aside of earthly care in order for the eucharistic gathering to receive in this world, Christ "the king of all."

[56] In contemporary Orthodox theology this idea is known as "the Liturgy after the Liturgy"; (more in Ion Bria - P. Vassiliadis, Orthodox Christian Witness, 1989, (in Greek) p. 65ff, also p. 35f) and it is underlined by the cosmic dimension of liturgical theology.